As they approach their second summer without international volunteers, Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is seeking part-time and full-time volunteers to support their operations throughout the sanctuary’s busy season.
Aspen Valley typically welcomes international volunteers at the sanctuary for the entire summer, but last year, they were unable to come due to COVID restrictions. The sanctuary rescheduled them for 2021, but they were forced to cancel a second time because of the continued impact of the pandemic. Aspen Valley is in need of 16 full-time volunteers for the summer, and they’re currently falling short due to the cancellations, which could limit the number of animals they’re able to take in. They’re hoping to welcome more members to the team starting late spring and spanning into the summer months.
“We don’t necessarily need anybody that has had previous experience working with animals or wildlife,” said Aspen Valley executive director Linda Glimps. “Typically the people that do tend to want to volunteer are animal lovers, or they’re in some sort of study for animal science, so this is a good opportunity for them to learn.”
Full-time volunteers receive free shared accommodations and must be able to live at the sanctuary for four consecutive weeks, so for those looking to help with less time commitment, part time is also an option. Part-time roles can include many tasks, but the sanctuary is looking for animal care and maintenance volunteers in particular.
“Our part-time volunteer program is really good for people who live right in the community and who can dedicate a minimum of four hours a week,” Glimps said. “There’s many roles that they can play from actual animal care all the way to general cleanup or maintenance, so if anybody is handy, there’s always lots of things that we need repaired at the facility.”
Given the weather in the Muskoka area, the sanctuary has a limited amount of time to complete their outdoor work each year. Maintenance projects include tasks like painting, landscaping, taking down old enclosures or building new ones, but even if you’re not handy, there’s always something to do at the sanctuary.
“We are a nonprofit, and with no government funding, so we not only need to rely upon financial support through donations, but we heavily rely on volunteers,” Glimps said. “If we didn’t have volunteers, we would definitely not be able to do the work that we do. They’re a necessity.”
While the lack of full-time volunteers has presented many challenges over the last year, the sanctuary has seen the most part-time volunteers they’ve ever had, but they could still use more. Those interested in volunteering can apply online through Aspen Valley’s website.
Once submitted, the application will go to one of the sanctuary’s volunteer coordinators, who will contact applicants to find out more about their skills and match them with volunteer opportunities. Whether it’s working directly with animals or simply cutting the grass, every task at Aspen Valley contributes to a better life for Muskoka wildlife.
“You’re working with people who share the same values, and it’s just lots to learn,” Glimps said. “We think it’s a really great experience for people, so I just encourage people to apply.”
To learn more about volunteering with Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, visit their website.